Throughout history, bells have been used to announce a death or to express the gravity of an individual’s passing. Honor bells are tuned to mourning. They are struck, note by note, to communicate the depth of sorrow and the extent of loss.

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There is no better way to sound a tribute than by an honor bell. Its dignity complements the traditions and simplicity associated with military funeral rites, while its beauty offers a note of reverence.

The Honor Bell is the first tolling bell cast in U.S. history with the sole purpose of rendering a final honor to United States Service Members killed in action and United States Armed Forces Veterans.  It is tolled exclusively by veterans and active-duty servicemembers.  It is a custom-designed, thirty-seven-inch diameter, forty-inch tall, stationary bronze bell that weighs one thousand pounds.

The Bell's motto is "Forged From Honor." During the casting of the Honor Bell, artifacts from twelve deceased Colorado servicemen from World War II to the War on Terror were added to the molten bronze, representing veterans past, present and future.  With these artifacts forever part of the bell, it can be truly said that "the Honor Bell has been Forged From Honor." Read about the veterans behind the artifacts here.

The artifacts were transported in May 2016 from Denver, Colorado to Cincinnati, Ohio, escorted by state chapters of the Patriot Guard Riders and other organizations.  Upon reaching the border of each state, there was a transfer ceremony, passing on and entrusting the artifacts to the next state's group of riders. The Honor Bell was cast especially for the Foundation by The Verdin Company of Ohio. The Honor Bell was cast slightly thicker than required, and was gradually and carefully tuned. Tuning involves a painstaking process of removing just the right amount of metal at different levels inside the bell — thus ensuring the instrument sounds the somber notes required of an honor bell.

Once the bell was cast and mounted into its vehicle, representatives of the Honor Bell Foundation and the Bell Honor Guard accompanied the Bell on its journey back to Colorado, introducing this symbol of tradition and respect to the public at a number of stops. The Honor Bell was dedicated for service at a Memorial Day 2016 ceremony.

Learn more about the Bell Honors ceremony here.